ABERDEEN, S.D. – No. 25-ranked Augustana advanced to the semifinals in the NSIC/Sanford Health Men's Basketball Tournament with an 85-61 win over Northern State (20-11) on Saturday afternoon in Aberdeen, S.D. The Vikings (21-7) hit a season-high 31 free throws while corralling a season-high 10 steals in the win over the Wolves.
Cameron McCaffrey led the Vikings with 26 points while hitting a career-high 14 free throws, in 14 attempts, in the game. McCaffrey scored 22 of his 26 points in the second half alone. Zach Huisken added a career-high 15 points on 5 of 10 shooting, hitting two 3-pointers and 3 of 7 free throws.
Augustana opened the second half on a 16-5 run and never looked back, out-scoring Northern State 50-28 in the second half. The Vikings finished the game shooting 46 percent (23 of 50) from the field, including 12 of 29 from 3-point range.
Collin Pryor led Northern State with 16 points while Michael Emge added 13 points, shooting 3 of 8 from 3-point range. The Wolves shot just 27 percent from the field in the second half, after shooting 52 percent in the first frame.
Northern State opened up on an 8-0 run over the first two minutes of the game before Huisken drilled 3-pointers on consecutive possessions for the Vikings to cut the lead 8-6 with 17:17 remaining in the first half.
Pryor answered with a 3-pointer on NSU's next possession got points on its next two possessions and Nomeland hit a fade-away jumper to make it a one point game at 10-9. Northern State then went on a 10-5 run over the next three and half minutes to go up by six at 20-14 with 10:54 remaining in the half.
The Vikings responded with a 5-0 run over the next minute which helped cut the lead to one again at 20-19 just after the media timeout. Augustana scored six more points of the next four and a half minutes to extend their run to 11-4, Schilling capping it off with a basket to give the Vikings their first lead of the game at 25-24 with 5:28 remaining in the first half.
Northern State then went on a 5-0 run to push its lead to four at 29-25 but the Vikings answered when Joe Burt took off on a fastbreak and scored while getting fouled. Burt converted the three-point-play cutting NSU's lead to 29-28, before Geoffrey Firmin hit a jumper to push the Wolves' lead back to three.
Yuriy Malashenko answered with a 3-pointer and the Vikings, sparking a 7-0 run and the Vikings went into the locker room with a 35-33 halftime lead. Firmin hit two free throws just before the end of the half for Northern State.
Both teams shot 52 percent from the field in the first half. Northern State was 3 of 10 from 3-point range while the Vikings hit 4 of 11 shots from behind the arc. Augustana got to the foul line 14 times in the half but hit just nine free throws.
Augustana got a balanced scoring attack in the first half with eight of the 10 players who got on the floor scoring points. Huisken finished with nine first half points while Schilling added five. McCaffrey, Jansen and Jamall Taylor each scored four points for the Vikings in the first half.
Collin Pryor led the Wolves in the first half scoring 11 points on 5 of 6 shooting. Mack Arvidson scored six points in the first half for NSU, hitting 2 of 3 shots from 3-point range while Jared Hannigan and Firmin each added five first half points.
Each team turned the ball over nine times in the first half, Northern State was able to score 12 points off of Augustana turnovers while the Vikings scored nine points off of NSU turnovers.
Augustana opened up the second half on a 12-3 run to take an 11-point lead at 47-36. After a technical foul was called on Northern State's head coach Paul Sather, McCaffrey hit both free throws to give the Vikings its largest lead of the night.
Augustana was able to push its lead up to 13 (51-38) following two free throws by McCaffrey with 12:29 to play in the game. Northern State was able to cut the lead down to single digits by going on a 6-0 run over the next minute after a 3-pointer by Mack Arvidson and three free throws by the Wolves.
Tanner Odegaard pushed the Vikings' lead back to 10, at 56-46, with his 11th 3-pointer of the season. After the 3-pointer by Odegaard, the Vikings went on a 14-5 run, hitting eight free throws, including four straight after McCaffrey and Huisken each hit two on the same possession after a technical foul was called on NSU's Firmin. Leif Nomeland nailed a 3-pointer with 7:36 to play to give the Vikings a 19-point lead at 70-51 with 7:36 remaining in the game.
The Vikings would lead by as much as 26 points in the final seven minutes of the game, earning an 85-61 win over the Wolves. Augustana is now 13-0 on the season when playing on Saturdays.
Augustana advances to the semifinals of the NSIC/Sanford Health Men's Basketball Tournament and will play Minnesota State on Friday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m. at Taylor Arena in Rochester, Minn.